Hearing is Not Enough #10

Saturday, January 14, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough? (NO!)

As numerous people in history heard the Word of God but placed no faith in it, as myriads today hear the Holy Bible yet refuse to trust it, so many souls in the future will hear the Word of God and persist in unbelief.

Hebrews 3:15 speaks of the ages to come: “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” See Psalm 95:7,8: “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness.” Psalms recalls Israel’s unbelief during the 40-year wilderness wanderings under Moses. Hebrews looks to the future, when countless Jewish unbelievers support the Antichrist. Having heard substantial information about Jesus being Christ, but not trusting Him as personal Saviour, their callous or unfeeling heart thus inclines toward the Antichrist (thereby leading to their eternal doom)!

As much sound Bible doctrine as we have heard, we should not only have believed it in our head but, more importantly, trusted it in our heart. If we believe in our heart less than what we have learned, the Lord is never (!) to blame for any resultant confusion, heartache, misery, or apostasy.

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe [not simply ‘hear,’ but ‘believe!’](1 Thessalonians 2:13).

And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day(John 12:47,48).

Hearing is Not Enough #9

Friday, January 13, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

By the time of Acts chapter 7, Israel’s one-year extension to repent and believe the Gospel of the Kingdom is nearly over (see Luke 13:6-9, noting “this year”  in verse 8 follows Christ’s “three years” of earthly ministry). Stephen recounts Israel’s long history of unbelief—climaxing in Jesus’ rejection and crucifixion. He winds down his sermon with the following: “[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. [52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One [Christ Jesus]; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: [53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

Israel’s unbelieving leadership responds: When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (verse 54). Rather than admitting their sin, they proceeded to physically assault Stephen, yet the worst is to come! “[55] But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, [56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. [57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. [59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. [60] And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Yes, they heard the Word of God, but they did not receive it in faith, so it cost God’s preacher Stephen his life.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Hearing is Not Enough #8

Thursday, January 12, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

Read Christ’s Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:2-9, and Luke 8:4-8. The interpretation or explanation is provided in Matthew 13:18-23, Mark 4:14-20, and Luke 8:11-15. Overall, four classes of people heard the Word of God (here, the Gospel of the Kingdom), but only the last category (a mere one-fourth of the audience!) actually received by faith that sound Bible doctrine. The other three were various types of lost souls—but who all heard the Word! Furthermore, after concluding the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus cautioned Israel not only to “hear” His words but “do” them (Matthew 7:24-26); He closed the Sermon on the Plain likewise (Luke 6:46-49).

A remarkable passage is Acts 24:24-27: “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.”

Roman Governor Felix heard the Gospel of Grace from the Apostle Paul himself—and literally shuddered when he realized he was a lost, Hell-bound sinner! Alas, Felix procrastinated, delaying to place his faith in what he had just heard about Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins. For two years, he had more “Bible discussions” with Paul, and we can be absolutely certain Paul did all that he could to reach Felix (who, as it turned out, remained lost and kept Paul in chains!!). Like so many billions through the millennia, it was far better had Felix heard nothing from God, than to have heard so much from Him and yet believed none of it!

To reiterate, hearing the Word of God is insufficient….

Hearing is Not Enough #7

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

Romans chapter 10 is the Holy Spirit describing lost Israel in the Acts period, whether during Peter’s ministry or Paul’s ministry: “[14] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? [15] And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! [16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? [17] So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. [18] But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”

In Isaiah 53:1 (quoted in Romans 10:16), seven centuries before Acts, Israel had failed to believe the words of God that were written and preached to her. The Word of God was there, so faith (trust in that Word) should have also been present (but it was not!). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Concerning Paul’s sermon to pagan Greeks in Athens, the Word of God was proclaimed, but there was no faith in the heart of these heathen listeners either! “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter (Acts 17:30-32). These actually ridiculed Divine revelation!

The above souls heard sound Bible doctrine, but it did not benefit them because there was no positive response (faith)….

Hearing is Not Enough #6

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

Acts 13:15 says, “And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them….” The Apostle Paul, now summoned, proceeds to speak regarding Jesus’ rejection: “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet [knew] the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him” (verse 27). Compare that to Acts 15:21: “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Each and every Saturday Sabbath, the Jewish people would assemble at synagogues throughout the Roman world, to read and hear their Hebrew Bible (our “Old Testament” Books of Genesis through Malachi).

Consider also Luke 4:16-21, Christ’s first sermon recorded in Scripture. He preached in the synagogue of Nazareth, where He grew up. Note how He read Isaiah 61:1,2 aloud to them. Their reaction was utter wonderment (verse 22)—shock in that “Joseph’s son” (not “God’s Son!”) was so competent! When you read Luke 4:23-27, you will observe how He rebukes these Jewish people for their unbelief (and He reminded them of Gentiles who believed in their Hebrew Bible!). Verses 28 and 29, “And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath [not ‘faith!!!!’], And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.” After hearing Bible truth, these “friends and neighbors” tried to murder Jesus!

“I have read the Bible.” “I know the Bible.” “I have studied the Bible.” “I love the Bible.” “I have heard the Bible.” These are noble, commendable answers, but, bearing in mind what we have just witnessed in the above passages, there is something vital that is missing from such responses. Ancient Israel was exposed to the Scriptures every week, for centuries upon centuries, but there was no personal faith to accompany that reading and hearing….

Hearing is Not Enough #5

Monday, January 9, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

The Lord has just six months left to live. As He treads Solomon’s Porch—a covered walkway along the eastern side of the Temple in Jerusalem—a crowd of people confronts Him. Observe: “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you” (John 10:24-26).

For almost three years, they had heard Him preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and had seen Him work miracles to confirm that message. There was ample, clear proof who He was, and if at the end of His ministry they still could not see the truth, it was only because they did not want to see it. Someone who does not want to see cannot be forced to see. Someone who does not wish to hear cannot be made to hear. Someone who does not want to understand cannot be forced to understand.

Describing national Israel during His earthly ministry, Christ quoted Isaiah (6:9,10): “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:14,15). He began speaking in parables—“hidden truths”—in order to conceal the plain facts they had heard from Him but had refused to believe all those months prior! Now they would just hear the sound of words, as all understanding would be removed.

Hearing the Word of God without exercising faith only hardens the heart….

The Ravings of a Madman! #10

Sunday, October 16, 2022

“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself” (Mark 3:20,21 KJV).

Who here is “beside himself?” Why has this designation been applied?

Saints, as we manage our lives and ministries, we must (!) remember our loyalty is solely to the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not follow preachers, denominations, or theological systems. We are not here to share “feel-good messages” so everyone will love and praise us. Our Lord Jesus conducted His life and earthly ministry to think like and serve Father God (John 8:28,29). He was not here to please people. Likewise, we are to be about Father God’s will, thinking like He does, walking by faith in His rightly divided Scriptures—regardless of what any fellow humans say or think about us. What is of ultimate importance is Heavenly Father’s assessment of us.

This is precisely how the Holy Spirit caused our Apostle Paul to view his life and ministry: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God(1 Corinthians 4:3-5).

Let them belittle us: we need not their applause anyway. Let them abhor us: we need not their love anyway. Let them kill us: we need not their world anyway. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1,2). If we have the renewed mind, we are truly not the madmen! 🙂

The Ravings of a Madman! #9

Saturday, October 15, 2022

“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself” (Mark 3:20,21 KJV).

Who here is “beside himself?” Why has this designation been applied?

Christendom’s prevailing spiritual insanity is the false notion that a system of rules and regulations will bring victorious Christian living. First Timothy chapter 1: “[5] Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: [6] From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; [7] Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm [encourage, support]. [8] But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; [9] Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, [10] For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; [11] According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”

In their lunacy, legalists—“understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (verse 8)—force people under the law system when it cannot give anyone a right standing before God. It can only point people to Christ the Saviour (Galatians 3:24,25). When we place ourselves and others under a performance-based acceptance system (obey to receive a blessing, failure results in a curse), this is legalism, the law system being contrary to the grace system. Understanding the Scriptures “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), we recognize we live in this “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:1). “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid [God protest, may God never let that happen!]” (Romans 6:14,15).

To avoid spiritual craziness, we must not only be Scriptural but dispensational too….

The Ravings of a Madman! #8

Friday, October 14, 2022

“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself” (Mark 3:20,21 KJV).

Who here is “beside himself?” Why has this designation been applied?

Porcius Festus (Roman Governor of Judaea) and King Herod Agrippa II heard the Apostle Paul’s testimony in Acts chapter 26. As Saul of Tarsus, some two decades prior, Paul had led Israel’s rebellion against Jesus Christ: “[9] I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. [11] And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad [insane, crazy, lunatic] against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” Saul had oppressed Israel’s believing remnant in chapters 7–9. Like his unbelieving nation, he had no renewed mind—but that all changed in chapter 9 when he met and trusted the ascended Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour (Acts 26:12-23)!

While listening to Paul’s testimony, Festus responded like any lost or natural man: “And as he [Paul] thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself [crazy]; much learning doth make thee mad [lunatic] (Acts 26:24). Paul was certainly an educated man (see Acts 22:3), but the Holy Spirit was also speaking through him so as to convict Festus. Festus’ human intellect, fallen and insane, was unable to make sense of God’s wisdom: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [judged, evaluated]” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Hence, non-Christians find it impossible to understand God’s words that we speak.

Yet, if we are not careful, even we Christians can actually rave like madmen, falling into the trap of true spiritual lunacy ourselves….

The Ravings of a Madman! #7

Thursday, October 13, 2022

“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself” (Mark 3:20,21 KJV).

Who here is “beside himself?” Why has this designation been applied?

Although Christ healed all sorts of ailments and disabilities during His earthly ministry, one particular class of afflicted people He delivered was “those which were lunatick” (Matthew 4:24). In Matthew chapter 17, verse 15, there is a devil-possessed man who is also “lunatic;” Jesus healed him too (verses 14-21). While these are literal, historical cases, the mature Bible student will appreciate the striking symbolism.

As the Holy Spirit afforded him the ability to see into the future, Moses stated the following concerning his nation in the ages to come: “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee” (Deuteronomy 32:18). Israel is not thinking like the LORD God designed her to think. She has been careless in remembering the Rock that gave birth to her coming out of Egypt. What has happened is she has pushed aside the Hebrew Scriptures entrusted to her (see Romans 3:1,2), and thought about anything and everything else—that is, all the beliefs and practices of the nations’ religions. Preoccupied with worthless information, she is now in Satan’s trap, and God’s purpose and plan for the earth cannot come to pass because His earthly people are willfully ignorant of His will for them and words to them. This continued for several centuries, all the way to Christ’s earthly ministry.

By curing those with mental illness, Christ in His earthly ministry was proving to Israel how He could heal her spiritual insanity. After all, He was preaching the very words that could educate them in Father God’s will. The miraculous demonstrations (miracles) they would see and hear would confirm whatever words or truths Father God wished to teach them. If they believed His message and esteemed His works, then they would no longer be ignorant of their Creator’s purpose and plan for them. Such spiritual insanity continues throughout the world today, including in Christendom….